Day 6: Writing
Remember when I was gone last weekend? Mr. Phish and I spent the weekend in Nebraska helping my parents move.
In 1979, my mom and dad took a leap of faith. With one baby and another on the way shortly, my parents bought a drug store in a rural Nebraska. My mom says they were too dumb to know what they were signing up for, but I like to think that they were just young and optimistic and hungry.
In the last 34 years, they have devoted themselves to the business. I think owning the store is part of what makes my parents the ultimate team. When you own a business with someone, you learn to talk to them. You learn to work together. You learn what it means to sacrifice and support and struggle.
This year, they had the opportunity to expand and move into a larger store just two doors down the street. After much discussion, they took another great leap of faith.
These people amaze me. Even if I did not know them, they would amaze me.
Moving a business is no small beans. Especially a drug store with a huge gift inventory. It was an undertaking. I have the bum foot, so I got out of the worst of the physical labor. Everyone else made approximately 10,429 trips up and down the stairs carrying boxes/merchandise/displays/other random stuff.
We were all constantly running back and forth between the new store and the old store. At one point, I walked back to the pharmacy in the old store and my dad was leaning against the counter, staring at the wall. We had pulled out some fixtures to be used in the new store and there were bare walls everywhere.
At first, I thought he was just taking a minute to catch his breath. The man had total knee reconstruction one year ago so I figured all of the weeks of making trips and lifting fixtures were taking their toll.
But when I came around the corner of the pharmacy, I saw his cheeks were wet with tears. I took a few steps toward him and I followed his eyes to the wall.
Behind the pharmacy fixtures, my father had written a love note to my mother. In June of 1983, my parents had owned the store for four years. Things were not good. My dad was working three jobs and my mom was home with four kids under the age of five. Life was hard. Really hard.
But even amidst the struggle, the late nights and teary discussions about how they were going to pay their bills, there was so much love. So. much. love.
I hustled back to the new store and returned with my mom in tow. She was in the middle of a project and didn’t want to be pulled away from it. She walked back to the pharmacy. She saw him. And then she saw the wall.
They stood there, side by side, crying, remembering. They quietly soaked in the history of that wall. They’ve been at it forever now, but in 1983, things were still new. They didn’t know if they were going to make it. They didn’t know they would build a business that would be one of the most successful in the whole town.
It was a bittersweet weekend for all of us. I grew up in that store, counting nickels after dance lessons and helping with inventory. My parents grew up, from bright-eyed, clueless 25-year-olds to savvy, experienced independent business owners.
The love note was written on a concrete wall, so it couldn’t come with us to the new store. But I wouldn’t be the least surprised if my dad did the same thing on a piece of sheetrock in the new store. It’s who they are. And I love that.
I couldn’t be prouder of my parents.